The 4 Pots & Pans Every Kitchen Needs

The only pots and pans you need Cast iron skillet

I recently purchased myself a cast iron skillet and it has legitimately revolutionised my way of cooking. I took the plunge after seeing a heat mark emerging on my beloved non-stick pan. It made me realise what I have always known, non-stick or Teflon coated pans simply can’t handle high heat. Surprisingly a cast iron skillet also wasn’t as big an investment as I had anticipated. So with my recent purchase in mind, I thought I’d share my five essential pots and pans that everyone needs in their kitchen drawer. If you have any to add, please drop a comment below! I’m sure that this list could grow.

Non-stick Bauer Pro pan

Non-stick pan

I’ve long believed that cheap and cheerful is absolutely the way to go with non-stick pans as they simply ruin so easily. For years I’ve used these pans from Clicks and when taken good care of (i.e. avoiding using sharp tools), it lasts around 2 years each.

I definitely would have continued using them, if our family hadn’t made all our 90’s kid dreams come true when they gifted us Bauer Pro pans for our wedding. I haven’t tried blowing off burned milk, nor would I any time soon (bonus point if you catch the Verimark reference). These pans feature a thicker bottom, which is great for heat distribution and prevents sauces from burning. They have lasted fairly well, as we’ll be married four years this October. The glass lid that we received with it hasn’t seen as much use, but is definitely worth purchasing even if you’re only using it every so often as it can easily be used on other pans of a similar size later on.

When I do eventually replace them I’m keen to try a ceramic pan like these from Greenpan. They are supposedly amazing, although I can’t vouch for them myself. Obviously this one with the gold handle is the dream.

Use for: Pancakes, eggs, sauces. Things that require low-heat and are prone to sticking.

I own this one: Bauer Pro 26 cm pan with glass lid

Non-coated cast-iron skillet

Cast-iron pan/ skillet

There are so many options and different price points to consider when purchasing a cast-iron pan, so I did my research. I already owned a coated cast iron casserole that I’ve chipped despite working with it very carefully. So I knew from the get-go that a coated option simply wasn’t going to work for me. Plus the coated versions can’t handle very high heat, although I think here we’re talking naked flame heat in this case. A cast-iron skillet does of course also make the perfect camping partner.

The only down-side to a non-coated version seemed to be that it doesn’t love water or acidity. But even if you ruin the coating with either, it can easily be cleaned and re-seasoned. Depending on how much trouble you’re willing to go to, the seasoning can also be a little time-consuming. Although it only needs to be done at the beginning and as necessary later on.

What I really appreciated about these pans is that it seems to be a purchase for life. Even if you do damage it with a little rust, it is generally nothing that a little scrubbing and seasoning can’t fix. Plus they are easy to find for around R300-R400. Don’t be put off by the rough surface, they do become smoother as you season them and cook with it.

Use for: Searing and cooking meat, stir-frying veg and cook top to oven dishes.

I own this one: Outdoor Warehouse Fireside Cast-iron Skillet

Coated Cast Iron Casserole

Coated Cast-iron Casserole

The iconic Le Creuset casserole, a French kitchen staple, should have a home in every stew loving kitchen. Think something like Jamie’s beef stew or Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. It definitely gets more use in the winter months, but I also use it as my second pot when entertaining.

I chose to go with a coated cast-iron for this as the dishes I’d typically cook are very acidic, often featuring chopped tomatoes and wine. As mentioned before, acidity can ruin the seasoning of a non-coated cast iron which could then lead to rust. Do be warned though, they chip easily and could start to rust if you’re not careful with any exposed cast iron.

Oh and let me let you into a secret, you don’t need to spend upwards of R3k on a real Le Creuset! Any ceramic coated cast iron casserole will do the job, although I’ve only had mine for about 4 years it does show its age.

Use for: Casseroles, stews, soups and as a pot.

I own this one: 26 cm Inferno Cast Iron Casserole from @Home

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Pot

Thick Bottom Stainless Steel Pot

Often sold in sets of 20 – 24 pieces, a stainless steel pot is a truly versatile piece of kitchen equipment. Few households requires more than one or two of these and it is a case of quality versus quantity.

A good quality pot doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

Avoid a non-stick coating as it could be damaged by the heat required in some cooking methods and it serves no purpose in making soups and cooking rice. Similarly you want the handles to also be made from stainless steel as opposed to plastic, this way you know that the entire pot consists only of virtually indestructible stainless steel.

The last requirement is one of the hardest to come by, but a thicker bottom is absolutely essential when it comes to heat consistency for delicate things like making a roux or preparing choux pasta.

We cashed in our wedding vouchers on a 3-ply Le Creuset stainless steel boiler, which was one of the few thick bottom pots available at the time. AMC also make great ones, but their handles are plastic and I’d also check out newer ranges at @Home like Smeg and Baccarat although I’m not sure that they feature thicker bottoms.

Use for: Boiling pasta, rice, soups, sauces, makeshift double-boiler

I own this one: 24cm Le Creuset 3Ply Steel Casserole

You could stop at the four above, but it is likely that you’ll feel the need for at least one other pot or pan to suit your cooking style or favourite food.

A griddle cast-iron steak pan, a non-stick wok, a second stainless steel pot or a smaller non-stick pan for eggs and omelettes could be considered an essential depending on how often you cook what and the size of your family. It is all about tailoring your selection to your needs.

Let me know if you found this post helpful or whether you’d add anything to the list? I’m always keen to find new kitchen accessories and cookware to make the everyday task of cooking simpler and more enjoyable.

P.S. You can see how well-loved my pieces are in the pictures above. They’re pretty well seasoned, with at least twelve years between them.

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How To Pretty Up Your Kitchen on a Budget

If you’re anything like me, you probably spend at least an hour each day, if not more, in the kitchen. But so often a kitchen falls to the way side, especially if it isn’t the kitchen of your dream. So I thought I’d share how I made my less than ideal kitchen look prettier on a budget. These tips are great and should help you, whether you’re renting or simply looking to make an existing kitchen work.

  1. Keep the clutter at bay

This is my number one tip on making kitchens look better! Stash away as much as possible and keep those counter tops clear. You really only want to have things out that either doesn’t fit elsewhere (hello microwave) and basics like salt and pepper, that you reach for often, out on the counter. Limit your small appliances to the ones you use daily and put the rest away, but still within easy reach. If your kitchen is small, this is the single best tip to make it feel bigger and to free up more counter prep space.

2. Paint the backdoor

This is one of my personal pet peeves, but in South Africa so many homes have raw wood back doors that have simply been varnished. It does come down to personal preference, but if you find yourself unhappy with the overall look I’d recommend you try painting the orange-red tone door either white or a dark colour. It is amazing how much sleeker a room feels if you limit the wood tones in it. Sanding the door down to a beautiful raw wood tone (at least on the inside), could also be a beautiful way to add warmth to a plain white kitchen.

 

3. Limit the colours on display

This brings me to the colours you introduce into your kitchen. It is so easy to fall for all the pretty pastels, but if you’re dealing with a less than ideal kitchen restraining your colour palette is the best way to tone it down. I’m not saying all the miss-matched tupperware must go, but perhaps consider re-bottling some of your sink side essentials into clear glass bottles or removing the labels of products on display. Less visual clutter is always better!

4. Choose pretty basics

There are some things in your kitchen that you simply can’t hide. I advise you invest a little more in them, especially if it is something that you’ll be able to use for years to come. Think a beautiful gold dish drying tray, colour coordinated dishtowels and beautiful utilitarian items. Sometimes these might cost more or require more digging to find, but the joy they bring are so worth it. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites  (and a few ‘when-I-win-the-lotto’ items), down below. I still think one of the saddest things about adult life is spending that much money on a rubbish bin, but at least I found some pretty ones!

5. Decorate the space

Something people often forget to do is to actually decorate the space as you would any other room in the house. Introducing your personality and style doesn’t have to mean you can only think about fridge magnets! Lay down a washable rug or beautiful bath mat to cover unsightly floors and introduce art work into the space. I like the look of beautiful trivets stacked against chopping boards and creating the transitional style I personally love through both classic and modern accessories. For you, this could mean something mid-century or glamorous depending on your personal style. I also don’t think you can overestimate the power of fresh flowers or a beautiful potted plant. Herbs are a popular choice for good reason.

1. Salt and Pepper Grinders | 2. Kettle | 3. Serviette holder | 4. Slotted spoon

5. Bin | 6. Broom | 7. Utensil holder | 8. Dishrack 

I hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with a basic kitchen and that this will help you enjoy the space that much more!

 

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Home Update: Living & Dining Room

Black and white bookcaseI feel like I’ve lost my blogging motivation a little and there probably isn’t a single reason, but I was struggling to figure out where I fit in. I’m doing it part-time, really only as a hobby, and I can’t compete with most blogs as they’ve become so editorial. I still enjoy those blogs, but that level of professionalism simply isn’t possible for me. I don’t make use of a professional photographer, don’t buy things only for the blog and producing a single post often has to spread out over three days.

But as I was sitting on my couch now, I realised I wanted to share our living room (great room?). It is our all-in-one living and dining room that doesn’t come to more than 30 square meters. It isn’t ‘done’ in the traditional sense of the word and I’m not being modest like most bloggers (we’re missing half our gallery wall) but our new flooring just pleases me so greatly that I can finally share the room with some pride. To say it has been a work in progress is probably an understatement. We moved in four years ago with only two small bookshelves and a borrowed couch. We’ve come a long way since then, so I’d love to share how we made this small living-cum-dining room work for us and our cats.

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Gift Guide: For Him

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think men are the hardest to shop for. At least the men in my life are! They aren’t metro men, so skin care or simple treats don’t really spark joy. If there is something they need or desperately want, they buy it. That only leaves items that are way out of anyone’s budget and a few obscure buys. If you have a similar experience when it comes to buying for men, or you’ve left Christmas shopping until the last minute for any other reason, this guide might help you.

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Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

It is that time of the year again! If you haven’t purchased gifts for all the ladies in your life yet, then perhaps some of these ideas might serve as inspiration.

Home

I’m starting with my favourite category, home goods! H&M Home and Poetry are usually my first stops. A beautiful plant (cactus or orchid) with a pot is one of my favourite gifts to give. This one from H&M fits the bill perfectly. I also recently bought two very pretty plant pots for under R200 each at Weylandts (not available online), so definitely worth a look. You also can’t go wrong with a marble cheese board. This one from Poetry is sold out online, but the wooden one is similarly priced and just as pretty. Occasional cutlery also makes a beautiful gift and I just purchased this cake fork set for myself. These golden tea spoons are just as pretty from H&M.

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Festive Van Der Hum Cocktail

This time of year – summer, the festive season and school holidays – is the ideal time to have friends and family over. Although our gatherings are usually fairly casual, I  love how a simple cocktail can make even a pizza party feel special. As Christmas is around the corner, you’ll likely find yourself playing host some time over the coming month. This cocktail is a staple in our house as it is so easy to scale according to party size, whether you’re solo wrapping all the gifts or hosting the extended family.

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My Current Skincare Routine & Essentials

My skincare routine has changed significantly since my original post on the subject over four years ago. While I think my routine was right for me, my skin and my budget at the time, I’m actually much happier with my current routine and line-up. If you’re looking to shake things up, you might be happy to implement some of the changes I have made.

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Why Podcasts are Great & Some of My Favourites

If you haven’t delved into the world of podcasts yet, you are seriously missing out! With so much amazing, quality  content available for free, there is little reason to go about life’s errands in silence any longer. Although I’m still fairly new to the subject, there are a handful of podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis. If you don’t like girly banter or true crime, this list might not be for you, but there is a whole universe out there waiting to be listened to. Standing in line at the grocery store has never been so entertaining!

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Six of My Favourite Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it is so much easier said than done! There are so many amazing books to choose from that it can be hard to narrow down which ones are worth the shipping costs, so I thought I’d give you a peak into some of my favourite coffee table books. They cover a vast range of topics from wanderlust inducing books on the City of Love to Caroline Khoo’s beautiful confectioneries that are literally the way to my heart.

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